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I raced HalfRev Aquabike (1.2mile Swim/56 mile Bike no run!) as part of the Age Group Series. This means that if I race (2) Half Rev Aquabikes they will take my best (2) placements to determine if I get to race in the Age Group Series Championships in Knoxville 2014! This was my third race of the series and I managed to improve my ranking, so I’m happy about that, but more on that later….
So this trip was with the whole family. We left Friday and stopped by Madison to get one of my Teammates on the way. We took the seriously LONG way to the Expo but eventually we made it to the the team dinner and the VIP tent – the boys were “livin’ large”
We hung out with the Team and staff for a while and found out we were all invited to the Tommy Bartlett Water show! Even though I’ve been in the Chicagoland area I had never
a) been to the Dells in the summer
b) been to the Tommy Bartlett Water Show
So I was excited, silly I know after all the Vegas style shows I’ve seen – I wanted to check out this Midwest mainstay.
Was good family fun, but it got us back to the hotel late.
Sat AM I went with several of my Teammates to the Practice swim. The swim start was ON the Tommy Bartlett stage, which was pretty cool, and we hung out a couple hours talking to people (oh yeah, and I did swim a bit). Met up with my local buddies Kevin and Jenny and got Kevin in the water. Also watched the “Worst Wetsuit” contest by Blueseventy… wow, there were some needy people in that contest by the lady on the right won (and no, she’s not related to the guy next to her wearing the same vintage suit!)
The rest of the day was normal check in and all that mixed with some time at the water park with the family. Dinner was with several other Chicago locals at the Moose Jaw. I LOVE their delivery car:
Off to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour only to wake at 4am to get ready. I thought ahead and warned the Hilton staff we would be needing coffee and food. Well, at least they delivered on the coffee. I brought my own bagel so I plugged in theirs and I was in business for breakfast! Met up with Kevin and we walked over with tons of time to spare.
Got setup and stood around chatting for a long time as I had plenty of time to kill. Talking about the weather – everyone conecrned about the incoming rain. This course is HILLY and downhills + Rain = BAD. But forecast said 11am, so I’d be pretty much done and most people would be on the run – so it should be fine.
Finally went down to the swim start… and realized, oh-my… it’s going to be a long trip back! My ankle is still very grouchy, so even walking down wasn’t great – walking up (let’s not kid ourselves, no running for me) would be a chore. Steep hill too. Fun fun!
We lined up for the start, which ended up being time trial based loosely on wave and ability and we went off by two’s. You get to the start and sit on your butt next to your new best friend and you get a gentle shove in when it is your turn. And Bam – we’re off.
My swim started pretty well actually, no real crowding but I did past about 10 people within a few minutes. Clearly… not everyone understood the idea of self-seeding. Oh well, plenty of room to go around – and around I did. I went wide and just started passing folks left and right. I’ve only had a few swims in my new wetsuit, but it generally it has been Ok – I just tend to drift off course. So I was thinking about that…. right about the time the rain started. Urg. Stupid weathermen!
Ok, so now I’m having trouble seeing the bouy due to the rain. So although my swim felt pretty strong, I know I went substantially off course at least twice. The course was like a backwards C and twice I managed to cross over from my “line” over towards the other…. Not sure why my sighting was so off, but it was. In the end, swim time was 44 minutes – which is absolutely absurd for me (should be about 35). (Later I found everyone said they were slow, so I guess the course was long. But I know my poor sighting didn’t help. )
You exit the swim back on the stage, which was carpeted but still slick. Up I went and I fast walked it up the hill over to transition. All in all, I thought my transition was pretty good pace considering I wasn’t about to run. My ankle was already squeaking at me.
Get to my bike and EVERYONE around me is gone. Arg. I’m thinking I did a 44 min swim and now all the other aquabikers are GONE? Jesh, I’m LAAAAAAME. Oh well, this wasn’t really a key race for me, being hilly it doesn’t suit me – but I planned to hit the bike as well as I could. So get out of transition pretty quickly and off I go. I already shook the mental funk of being so SLOW on the swim.
The bike started off ok but it wasn’t long before the hills began. That’s ok, because I was expecting just a stupid hilly course and it was already delivering. 4000ft of climbing (Quassy was 3700ish and Knoxville 3100ish)
It was still raining, so I took the down hills conservatively. There were (3) major hills to worry about, I was told, and that certainly was the truth. So I planned my energy accordingly and spun up them best I could.
The first hill was challenging… about the same as the Madison loop “big” hill, which I don’t have much trouble with… I’m just slow. Fine, crawled up that. Unfortunately I couldn’t really enjoy the DOWN part.
The second hill was worse (Devil’s Head Resort – ski slopes), but again that was ok, I was expect this to be THE worst of the 3. Fine, some serious grade here… like 15%-18% for an EXTENDED period. Wow, that was freakin tough. I made it though, so I was pleased. Quite a few folks walking.
The downhill I got to enjoy a “little” as it wasn’t raining anymore… but still moist so I was careful.
Finally we turn and see the last climb. The road was recently chipsealed… so it was BAD. Rev3 swept it real good, so 1/2 the road was gravel free, but not all of it. And we climbed… and climbed.. and O-M-G when will it end?!?! 12%…. 15%…. 18%… 20%?!?!… and the worst was a section at 24% (according to my Garmin). I was racing this guy who was walking. Yeah, that slow. But I didn’t have to run after the bike so I decided to just keep going. Wow, that was SO long.
The downhill, totally useless on the gravel. Brakes the whole way. Boo!
FINALLY a nice flat section from about mile 41-46? Right before we got going I stopped and helped a lady get her chain back on, she was clearly frustrated. No biggy, took under a minute (it was tricky, I don’t blame her for asking for help) and I was on my way. I figure who cares, I’m certainly DFL so might as give up a minute of my time for them to be able to still have a good day. Hey, always good to deposit into the Kharma bank. We chatted for a while before I took off on the flats. I used that same power to get over the mountains on the flats and managed some extended sections in the 25-27mph range. It felt GREAT to go fast.
Around 47 we hit some little hills and I saw a guy changing his tire. As is custom I asked if he was alright… didn’t get a clear answer… like not-quite-coherent. I swung back around and asked again. He basically said he could use some help. He already popped 2 tubes.
I said no worries, give me your tools. In no time I had the tire off. I waved off someone else trying to help – thanks for the gesture but 3 people are too many for a tire. I explained we needed to feel for debris in the tire by rubbing your finger along the inside like this OUCCCCCH!!! Sh!t, yeah here’s the glass shard that has been popping your tubes buddy. Oh, and that’s my blood.
I showed him how to get the shard out, we threw another tube in there and started getting it reattached only to have that one pop. I didn’t FINISH checking the tire, there must have been another piece of glass. Off goes the tire, rip out the tube, grab another CO2 and tube from my bag, and get that in there. Just about done when then the SAG/bike repair guys showed. I said “Cavalry is here” and wished the guy well. He thanks me and I reminded him to SMILE!!! We’re doing this for FUN!
So I chewed up probably more time, but again, now this guy can continue his day, so it’s all good.
There were more hills, of course, but I managed just fine. Finally I see the runners as I get back into town. I know I have only a couple miles to go, so I lay it down and try to get this done under 5 hours (ouch, 5 hours really? for an Aquabike? Ick!). I’m trucking right along and this Duck Tour Boat/Car thing pulls onto the road about 1/2 mile in front of me. No big deal, I see him and he’s a way up.
However, he starts to slow down. He is filling up the ENTIRE right lane. On the left is runners. Shoot. However, he sees the runners and I yell out – in a VERY loud voice “BIKES COMING FROM BEHIND”. He slows more, looks like he is going to stop. COOL! No turn signal, so I slide to the left and begin my pass. I’m about half way and suddenly he GUNS IT!!
What happened next was similar to the movie the Matrix
But on a bike. I Zigged, I Zagged, and I am darn glad I’ve spent some time doing Mountain Biking and Cyclocross because those skills kept me upright. I locked up my back tire and tore it up but I did not crash but I am not at all pleased with the stream of night-very-nice words that spewed forth from my mouth. The very much edited version is I said “What the heck” and “Watch out” and “Let us now pray to Jesus”.
He did stop and I went around and finished with about 2000x the normal adrenaline in my system. That was a close call.
In all fairness, I shouldn’t have passed. My bad there. I can defend my choices but in the end, I shouldn’t have passed.
I finished 5:02. Wow, 5 hours? Oh well, put a few points into the Kharma bank and it was a darn good workout. 11th place (out of 11) in Aquabike. Ouch. Oh well! That still helps my ranking for the Age Group Championship. 3rd + 11th = 14 points. The lower the points the better. We will see if I can improve that in Maine, Cedar Point, or Branson this year.
The final highlight of the day was staying for the final finishers.
The 2nd to last was a 68yr old who’s GRAND DAUGHTER also raced today in her first HalRev. It was awesome seeing the whole family getting into it.
At almost 10 hours, this guy was amazing. His first Half Rev (wow, what a choice!!) but he was very proud. One of the Team Rev3 guys Ryan walked with him the final 7 miles. Robert was cooked from the bike but determined to finish, and finish he did. In typical Rev3 style ALL staff and ALL volunteers and ALL the team was there to cheer him on.
It’s about the journey folks… after dropping almost 150lbs, Robert succeeded in his journey. I stuck around and talked to him and his family for a while… next step for Robert is a FULL REV – possible Cedar Point 2015. I hope to see him there!